Would it be okay to say "mopping a sidewalk" when a sidewalk is being cleaned with water and mops or is there a better and a more common way of describing this action?

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    Side note: "Sidewalk" is American English. In British English it's called a "pavement", and in Australian English it's called a "footpath". – Andrew Oct 22 '18 at 13:55
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    Pavement is also used in AmE, at least it is where I come from. He dropped his iPhone on the pavement and the glass cracked. Sidewalk is too, but a sidewalk leads somewhere; a pavement is the sidewalk's surface, if it is paved. There are also brick sidewalks which would not be called pavements, even though the bricks are called "pavers". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 22 '18 at 14:08
  • It makes no difference. You wouldn't mop a sidewalk or the pavement. – Lambie Oct 23 '18 at 16:37

There are two ways to answer this question. Literally, yes, you can mop a sidewalk by using a mop to scrub it, but it probably wouldn't be very good for the mop.

Idiomatically, it would be better to simply say you're washing or washing down the sidewalk, usually just with a hose and something like a push-broom to sweep up any debris.

Every morning (except when it rained) the owner of the corner grocery would wash down the sidewalk in front of her store.

If not explicitly stated, "washing" implies the gentle use of water to wash away dirt and debris. If you want to really clean the sidewalk, you need to use a power washer / pressure hose

Side note: "Sidewalk" is American English. In British English that particular part of the road is called a "pavement", and in Australian English it's called a "footpath". This can be confusing, since in American English the "pavement" usually refers to the paved part of the road where cars drive.

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  • Cities use machines. People may use power washers, sure. The answer to the question is no because most sane people would not mop a sidewalk. And some people may even use a scrub brush/broom and bucket of water. – Lambie Oct 22 '18 at 14:59

Mops are for floors inside buildings. Mops are not generally used to clean sidewalks. Mops are dipped in a bucket of water, squeezed out and then dragged across the floor. That is known as damp mopping.

Sidewalks are swept with brooms by a person or cleaned by machine with a variety of configurations of water and/or brushes.

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  • That being said, you certainly can "mop a sidewalk", although it probably wouldn't be very good for the mop. – Andrew Oct 22 '18 at 13:53
  • As a mopper of floors at Woolworth's in high-school, I wouldn't have called it "damp mopping" but wet mopping. You really had to use a very wet mop to get that linoleum floor clean. This was back when dirt was dirt, before the world went to hell in a hand-basket. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 22 '18 at 14:17
  • wet mopping or damp mopping, same difference. The point is you do not mop sidewalks. Yes, you use a wet mop but you don't just wet the mop and drag it across the floor. Very often, you first squeeze out the excess water before doing that. Otherwise,it can make the whole exercise very messy urbanfloor.com/blog/damp-mopping-wood-floors – Lambie Oct 22 '18 at 14:29
  • @Andrew Can we please be reasonable? Yes, you can mop your wooden deck, too, if you want. – Lambie Oct 22 '18 at 14:31
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I was under the impression that the appropriate transport to hell was a handcart, which might be rather more comfortable than a basket, at least until one arrived. – Ronald Sole Oct 22 '18 at 20:51

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